How much sleep do we really need? Eight hours is often quoted – but in fact, while this works ok as a shorthand, different people need different amounts. Some people, it seems are efficient sleepers – because the quality of sleep is high they can get by on a little less quantity.
For most of us though, it’s handy to have a a bit of a helping hand to know how much sleep is the right amount. This is especially handy as we now know that our sleep needs alter through our lifetime. A group of sleep scientist in the US have recently studied the facts and come up with new guidelines on behalf of the National Sleep Foundation.
After studying the facts they concluded that the younger we are, the more sleep we need. Children aged 6-9 years typically need 9-11 hrs per night, but may get by on 7-8. Teenagers usually need 8-10 hrs night to get them through the energy sapping puberty growth phase. For some teenagers, sleeping more than 11 was found to be detrimental to their health. The experts also emphasised the need for teenagers to sleep enough each night rather than skimping through the week and trying to catch up at the weekend.
For adults (18-64) seven to nine hours was the recommended norm – although some people were able to cope on six hours. For the over 65’s a little less sleep worked out ok (7-8 hrs).
The levels recommended were based on how much on average people of different age groups needed to stay alert, physically well and have sufficient energy to get through a typical day.
In making its recommendation, the report points to the importance of getting sleep quantity right: “Too little sleep over several nights leaves you tired, unable to concentrate, depressed, anxious and, eventually, if it continues, at an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. Too much sleep is associated with much the same problems.”
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